Rancho Mirage Considers Subsidizing Medical Marijuana Delivery for Local Patients Rather Than Create Zoning for Storefront Model

Written by Blake Herzog |  Published in MyDesert.com

Delivery of medical marijuana is being considered rather than zoning for a storefront model of dispensing that has been zoned out of many cities, leaving patients with few options.

Rancho Mirage could start helping medical marijuana patients get it from out-of-town dispensaries, rather than allow storefronts to open in the city.

The City Council voted today to throw out two draft ordinances that have been waiting for a vote since October. The ordinances, if approved, would have made theirs the second Coachella Valley to allow dispensaries to operate legally.

Instead, Mayor Pro Tempore Dana Hobart put forward what he called the “Medical Cannabis Compassionate Access Program” at today’s meeting,.

The proposal would ban storefront dispensaries and cultivation outside of medical marijuana collectives.

But it would allow medical marijuana delivery services to operate with a business license from the city.

The city would subsidize travel costs for qualified patients residing in the city “who cannot have cannabis delivered to them.”

Hobart said, “We want the people to be able to get the medications, whether it’s cannabis or any other medication, that they’re entitled to.”

The council voted unanimously for Hobart’s motion, with the exception of Councilman Scott Hines.

Hines announced before debate began that he had to declare a conflict of interest because he had taken a job with a government relations firm whose clients include one medical marijuana dispensary.

Mayor Richard Kite called Hobart’s plan “the best of both worlds.”

Jessica McElfresh, an attorney with the firm representing three collectives that have been trying to open storefront dispensaries in Rancho Mirage, said after the meeting the council’s “heart is in the right place,” but delivery services could be harder to regulate than the storefronts.

She called the proposed ordinances which had just been dumped among the best-written she’d seen.

“It had cash drops every day, it had lots of cameras,” she said, referring to two of the many details included in the ordinance.

She said her clients are “disappointed” in the proposal, but didn’t know yet what their response to it would be.

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